retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that the National Restaurant Association is working with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to support national legislation that would require restaurant chains to disclose the calorie counts of the products and meals they sell.

However, there are some objections to the proposed regulations – but they may not be what you think.

The Times writes that some major chains – such as Domino’s and KFC – don't like the way the proposals single out companies with 20 or more units operating under a single banner. According to the story, “The 20-establishment threshold captures just 25% of roughly 1 million restaurants nationally, said Jonathan Blum, a senior vice president of Yum Brands Inc., which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and several other chains.”

The trade association supports the legislation because it prefers a national standard as opposed to a patchwork of state and local laws that are much more difficult to comply with. The Times reports that “if passed, the federal legislation would preempt similar laws in California, New York City and other regions for chains with at least 20 units, but local governments would still be able to pass their own laws for single restaurants and smaller chains. Some states have more stringent disclosure requirements than what would be mandated under the federal bill.”
KC's View:
Clarity is the best policy, especially in a transparent society where everybody is exposed, anyway. A federal approach, if it makes it easier and more consistent for business, probably makes sense, too.

But I have to say that if the proposals exempt an enormous number of establishments because of size, that doesn’t seem entirely fair – not to the big companies, and not to consumers.